Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tales of Moms Without Boundaries

Anyone who has experienced pregnancy, labor, birth and parenting is surely familiar with the bizarre tendency of other moms to lose all sense of etiquette, tact, boundaries or really manners of any kind.  From the stranger's hands rubbing on your growing belly to the melodramatic sagas of birthing, this phenomenon begins with that little bump inside and apparently never, ever ends.

Usually I'm pretty good about dealing with all the unsolicited "wisdom" from others and manage to take most of it with a grain of salt, letting it roll off my back or at least fuel some sarcastic comments for my chats with girlfriends.  Some days, though, I must admit, that forced smile and silent nod are tough to squeeze out.

Monday morning brings my weekly arrival at my daughter's kindergarten art class where I am the official parent volunteer.  This is always a time I look forward to and I love watching my girl with her buddies and witnessing her growing into her own person.  My 5 year old is, to say the least, an anxious child.  She is a worrier, super sensitive and errs on the drama queen side.  Many of these traits she inherits from me and I see myself in her often, remembering my own struggles as a child.  She, however, is much more at ease with herself and the world than I ever was and I do my best as her mother to encourage these sides of her personality and try to give her methods of coping with those that are a struggle for her.

We usually have to have a preemptive chat Monday mornings about being together for art class but then working on saying goodbye without a panic attack at the end of class.  Generally, she does fine but, as it goes with kids, some weeks she's a little more anxious than others.  When the end of art class rolled around, there was some wobbly lip action and the beginnings of a tear streaked face.  So I took a moment with her while the rest of the kids went up to the classroom, we talked about our routine, what we'd do after school, yadda yadda, had some hugs and off she went to class.

Mission accomplished, time to pack up and move in with the day.  Alas, that was not to be.  Mrs. Art Teacher, who I really do enjoy as an art teacher abut not so much as a confidante, felt it necessary to cozy up and give me some advice "from one mother to another."

Oh no, here we go, what will it be now?  Ah, apparently, even though I have spent 5 years parenting my child, perhaps someone who sees her in a class of 16 once a week for the past 7 months really knows what is best for her.  AARGH!!  So, then I had to stand there while I was told that I was not doing my daughter any good by making such an intimate moment together when she is feeling upset.  That I really just need to say good-bye and walk away and be done with it and then she will learn.  Um, learn what?

Normally, I would have just let this go, smiled and nodded and quickly made my way to the door.  But that morning, I was not in the mood to be taken down for my parenting skills.  I was polite and fairly tactful, a trait I sometimes struggle with, than she had been with her comments.  I simply explained that my daughter had a tendency towards worry and anxiety and that, while we had tried many strategies, we had found that the way we deal with issues works the best for her and that I felt my job was to help her cope with these feelings rather than just teach her to ignore them.  And, actually, Mrs. Art Teacher did not have much more parenting advice to give.

My conclusion: It is wonderful to have other mams out there to support us with the challenges of raising children but the same rules for what is and is not socially acceptable, apply for parenting advice as for all other topics.  Save your advice for those that you actually have a close friendship with or, even better, wait for someone to ask for help before you dish it out.

1 comment:

Dinner Together, LLC said...

I think you handled that really well! Give yourself a pat on the back. :) It sounds like you have worked hard to understand your daughter and know what strategies to try to help her. Unsolicited parenting advice can make us all feel lousy.